On October 25, 2015 IBM kicked off its annual data and analytics conference, Insight 2015, which featured Smart Connect as the “Business Partner of the Future.” The Insight Conference is a yearly opportunity for IBM to feature the progress achieved through its partnerships and collaborations with other companies in the advancement of its big data analytics capabilities. IBM has been tremendously successful in establishing and developing its data analytics operations, most notably with Watson. Watson, named after IBM’s first CEO Thomas J. Watson, was designed from its inception to present structured and unstructured data from a virtually unlimited range of sources to human users in easily comprehensible formats. It first made headlines when it famously won the Jeopardy Challenge in 2011, decisively beating the game show’s top human competitors. Its current capabilities and applications are even more impressive (at least, more useful) – consumer sentiment tracking for new retail products, financial planning, medical research, sensor data analysis – all current Watson applications, with more emerging each cycle.
IBM’s business model for Watson is structured around the retrieval of mass quantities of data for analysis, however, the responsibility of collecting, normalizing, and uploading data so that it can be analyzed by Watson remains in the hands of those industries that would benefit from its insights. IBM relies on its business partners to fill this gap between Watson and their clients’ data, hence the prominent featuring of its partnerships at the Insight Conference.
Data generated by business accumulates in countless forms, in practically any industry. Companies such as QueBIT, for instance, assess data quality and readiness for predictive customer analytics using IBM technologies, while Micro Strategies, another award-winning IBM partner, collects and refines pure data from business databases for integration and analysis by Watson Foundation solutions. The analysis of data from equipment sensors in transportation, manufacturing, water, and energy applications is the sector where Smart Connect dwells.
One of the major challenges of utilizing data generated by sensors on industrial equipment is that much of this equipment was deployed before the advent of the Industrial Internet of Things, rendering it offline, its data siloed, unable to take advantage of the benefits offered by data analytics platforms like Watson. The big analytics companies like IBM, Dell, or Intel, however, are not interested in the work of getting the data out of the machines – their focus is on analysis, hence the importance business partners. Smart Connect’s breakthrough innovation has been to bring this legacy equipment online and connect it to cloud-based data analytics platforms simply, cost-effectively, and without disrupting existing process control systems.
Our software solution is also being made available in the Dell IoT Gateway, has solved the challenge of extracting and normalizing data from any equipment sensor. It collects the data IBM needs to run its analytics business, establishing an end-to-end solution allowing industry to bring their legacy equipment online and begin reaping the invaluable benefits of IBM’s data analytics offerings.
This is why IBM’s decision to name Smart Connect as the “Business Partner of the Future” and select it as a finalist for the IBM Beacon Award for partners is a notable distinction. This recognition is an impressive validation of Smart Connect’s data normalization capabilities and its standing as an elegant bridge solution for industries bringing their equipment online. Smart Connect empowers their organizations to reap the benefits of today’s new industrial revolution – the Industrial Internet of Things.